Hiroo Kaneda — founder of the Sunstar Foundation
Hiroo Kaneda, leader of the Sunstar Group, established the Sunstar Foundation for Oral Health Promotion (later Sunstar Foundation) in 1977. At the time of establishment, Japan had a 97% prevalence of tooth decay in children. Hiroo Kaneda had a sense of mission as an entrepreneur to correctly convey the importance of “living with your original teeth for your whole life”.
Created under the Sunstar motto, “Always strive to help people everywhere achieve better health and enhance their quality of life”, Sunstar Foundation is part of Sunstar’s contribution to society, returning profit through raising awareness of health and fostering expertise in the next generation.
In 1977, the Sunstar Foundation for Dental Health Promotion (now the Sunstar Foundation) was established to promote and facilitate research and studies on oral health. In response to the lack of dentists who could treat children’s cavities, the Senri Dental Clinic in Osaka, Japan, was opened later in the year with the theme of “Health and happiness for mothers and children”.
In 1980, we started offering dental treatment for the mentally and physically challenged (which had been difficult to do in general clinics) by introducing specialized staff. In 1985, we started providing dental checkups to improve the oral health through health insurance association in each company.
In 1994, considering the growing demand for adult dentistry, we transformed our clinic with specialized facilities and equipment to focus on the prevention and treatment of periodontal disease. In 1998, as our first international attempt, we supported a gum health survey for 1,400 elementary and junior high school students conducted by the Faculty of Dentistry of Thammasat University in Thailand. We also started dental treatment for Type I diabetic patients.
Later in the year, an expert meeting on oral hygiene and systemic health was held in Geneva, Switzerland, bringing together medical and dental experts, WHO and NGO (non-governmental organization) representatives.
With the aim of promoting research on oral and general health, Sunstar World Perio Research Award was established to honor outstanding papers published in the world’s leading periodontal and dental journals. At the 89th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP) held in San Francisco, California, Hiroo Kaneda, Founder of Sunstar Foundation, became the first non-periodontist to be elected as an honorary member of AAP in recognition of his many years of dedication to the prevention, treatment and awareness of periodontal disease.
We held a public symposium titled “From Oral Health to Whole Body Harmony: The Mysterious Relationship between oral and general health” in Osaka. This event combined music and dinner in addition to the symposium, to promote physical and mental health.
The Sunstar World Dental Hygienist Award was established to honor dental hygienists and students who conducted outstanding research and contributed to the society. The first award ceremony was held at the 17th World Dental Hygiene Congress in Toronto, Canada.
Japanese and the US dentists and diabetologists developed an action plan to increase awareness of the relationship between periodontal disease and diabetes, summarized in “Consensus Statement by a Japan/US Expert Panel on Systemic Health, Diabetes and Oral Health”. Later in the year, the Joslin Sunstar Diabetes Education Initiative (JSDEI) Seminar, an educational program for doctors, dentists, dietitians, nurses and pharmacists, was held in Chicago, USA in collaboration with the Joslin Diabetes Center. As of today, a total of 21 JSDEI seminars have been held around the world, attracting a total of 7,400 professionals attended and contributing to the promotion of medical and dental collaboration.
In January, the Hiroo Kaneda Research Grant was established. The first two recipients went to study at Joslin Diabetes Center. “Diabetes and Periodontal Disease: The Present and Future of Medical and Dental Cooperation” was held at the United Nations University in Tokyo to discuss the causal relationship between diabetes and periodontal disease with experts, and to deepen the understanding with the general public. This event was broadcast on Japan’s NHK Educational channel.
We changed our name to Sunstar Foundation in order to expand the scope of our activities from dentistry to medicine, nutrition, health care and welfare.
We donated a portable dental chair, a portable x-ray and 2,300 books to promote oral health in the areas affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake in cooperation with Volkshilfe, an international NPO organization in Austria.
We relaunched the Senri Dental Clinic in Osaka, Japan, as a friendly facility for children, the elderly and the physically challenged, with the aim of becoming a dental clinic for a lifelong relationship with the entire family in the local community
With the cooperation of periodontal medicine and other experts, we produced an educational video titled “Cell-to-Cell Communication: Oral Health and Systemic Diseases: The Relationship between Periodontal Disease, Atherosclerosis and Diabetes” and published it on the Foundation's website. The video scientifically explains the biological reactions that occur in the microscopic world at the cellular level, and how periodontal disease can have adverse effects on the entire body when it becomes severe.
In November, the first Takatsuki Citizens’ Iki Iki Health Lecture “A healthy body starts with a healthy mouth — you can enjoy delicious food with your own mouth forever” was held to promote understanding of the importance of oral and general health.
We established the Perio Link Award to honor papers about oral and general health that were highly rated on social media.
The donation of toothbrushes to children in emerging countries started in Vanuatu, and has grown to Tanzania, Laos, Maldives, Cape Verde, Madagascar and so on. In 2002, the total number of donated toothbrushes reached 1.15 million, supporting the teaching of oral care to children.
After reviewing the program of the Hiroo Kaneda Research Grant Fund, we expanded to support any other places that applicants want to go for study without the limitations of the Joslin Diabetes Center. We select one student each from dental and medical field.